Posts Tagged ‘God’s blessings’

Groundhog Day

The one with Bill Murray, not Punxsutawney Phil.

Getting cancer over, and over, and over again is comparable to the movie Groundhog Day. One season ends and I wake up expecting a new one to begin, only to find myself in the same season I have journeyed twice before. Over, and over, and over again. Much to my dismay, this battle is not complete yet.

As you know (or maybe you haven’t read the latest), surgery went better than we could have imagined. God has repeatedly displayed His power. The scan showed a two-inch tumor near my remaining ovary. However, during surgery, my doctor didn’t find a tumor at all, and in fact stated that I had one of the cleanest abdomens she had ever seen – pink and healthy. Just to be certain, she removed the ovary and sent it off for further review. Pathology reports came back showing microscopic cancerous cells… That, my friends, is a miracle… Did you not catch that? From the size of nearly a golf ball, to microscopic cells. Had there not been a tumor on my scan, my doctor would not have operated, and I would have continued believing that I was cancer-free, when in reality, this disease would have had three more months to grow and possibly travel elsewhere. God allowed a tumor to show up on my scan, in order for us to find the beginning stages of a recurrence. A golf ball size shrinking to microscopic cells. If you don’t call that a miracle, I don’t know what you would.

God calls us to focus on the praises and miracles He has performed in our lives and the lives of those around us. Yet, as humans, when another storm arises, we tend to forget those miracles. We often store them in the back of our minds, only occasionally pulling them forward in our memories. Life gets hard again, and we forget all the good He has done in and for us. By doing that, we aren’t fully recognizing God for who He is. His goodness doesn’t come and go. He is the single most consistent being in existence. We must remember the blessings He has poured over us. It’s as vital as breathing.

Since surgery one month ago, I have already received chemotherapy. About 12 days ago, in fact. It was my 31st chemo cocktail, yet familiarity doesn’t always bring comfort. I’ll never say fighting cancer is easy. No matter if it’s your first time, or your third, fighting cancer takes everything you have and more. Frankly, I can’t believe I’m doing this all over again. Twice… okay, that was hard enough. But three times? After being out of treatment for six months and nearly a year cancer-free. Seriously?

I’ve processed this recurrence different than my initial diagnosis and first recurrence. It’s been drastically more emotional for me. Being that so many of my girlfriends are pregnant now, I’d venture into comparing my emotions with those of an expectant mother. For real. This past week, I’ve cried over the silliest things. On one of my good days, Matt and I ventured into Ikea, and noticed a woman training a service dog. I had to keep walking, or I would have needed a box of tissues. I’ve cried to my husband and by myself. Over everything and over nothing. The tears have found their way out regardless of my will to keep them contained. I know that purging these emotions is a good thing, and a healthy cry session can help with the process.

No matter how much I’d love to say I’m always focusing on the positive, I am here to admit that I, too, am human. I have moments where I allow the blessings to easily slide to the back of my mind, allowing the storm to overwhelm my life. My tears are those of sadness, grief, and exhaustion. I loathe the fact that I am faced with this choice again. The choice to fight or die. Fighting cancer is just that… a choice. And it’s a choice that I must make. However, as always, I choose to fight.

Clinging to God’s blessings in the midst of the storm helps us build up our arsenal of tools to ward off the enemy. The enemy is a thief in the night who wants to steal our joy, hope, and positivity. He knows we are weak and preys on our vulnerabilities; doing whatever he can to push us further into the mud. It’s easy to fall into the pit of despair and continue drowning in the muck that tries to suffocate us.

Last week was full of emotions, sadness, shock, and defeat. I was living in a real-life Groundhog Day. But today, I am standing firm in the promises, miracles, and blessings that God has poured over me. I am calling forth every gift He has given me, and every promise He has spoken to me. I am remembering the moment I woke up from surgery to learn that there was no tumor. I am remembering the many times that God has scheduled divine appointments on my behalf. I am clinging to the goodness of my Savior, because I am blessed.

I’m fighting this again, which only means that I will soon be a three-time cancer survivor. This season will be different. I’m not waking up in the same place as I was twice before. Try as you may, cancer, but this chick is standing firm with spiritual armor so powerful, nothing can penetrate it.

Handling business as usual, chemo-style. (October 2013)

Handling business as usual, chemo-style. (October 2013)

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (MSG)

“Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, ‘My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.’ Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”

Breaking the Bubble via Dude Ranch

Entry to the ranch. (May 2013)

Entry to the ranch. (May 2013)

Am I the only one who feels stuck inside of a bubble oftentimes? Maybe you don’t get out very much, stay inside a small radius of your home, or haven’t experienced as much as you would like to. Perhaps your life doesn’t cross the borders of your comfort level. For me, the diagnosis of cancer has continually tried to envelop me inside of it’s bubble. And sometimes, it’s quite difficult to escape.

With frequent doctors appointments, trips to the hospital, and numerous days where I have been held hostage inside our home by my immune system, it’s often hard to get away. Sometimes no matter how hard we try to penetrate it’s walls, the cancer bubble keeps us contained. With this diagnosis and ensuing battle, finding time, energy, and health to enjoy a vacation has been nearly impossible. Key word: nearly.

Check out the side of that barn! (May 2013)

Check out the side of that barn! (May 2013)

This past weekend, we hightailed it out of our bubble. We managed to escape it’s walls and fully enjoy a memorable adventure together. I haven’t had chemotherapy in over a month, so I have been feeling pretty good. My energy is still lower than I would like, but I am further along than I was four weeks ago. And yet again, God has placed a blessing in our lives… continual proof that He never leaves us.

Months ago, we received an invitation from a family friend to spend a weekend at Lost Valley Ranch. Until a few weeks ago, we had found it difficult to get away. However, this past weekend we packed our bags, hopped in the car, and drove two hours through the mountains to arrive at our destination, the ranch. The incredibly majestic gem hidden away from everyone and everything. No cell service. No TVs. No internet connection (besides one “hotspot” in the dining hall). Therefore, no texts nor calls, no emails, and no appointments nor reminders. We were away from any distractions, and were able to focus without cancer looming over our heads like an unwelcome thunderstorm.

Heaven on Earth (May 2013)

Heaven on Earth (May 2013)

This getaway ranked high on our list of memorable moments. In fact, we agree that it came quite close to our honeymoon in Cancun. Needless to say, it was a much-needed and long overdue break. And not only a break, but a fun-filled adventure. Something that has forever impacted our lives, and has touched us dearly. Memories we will hold close to our hearts for many years to come.

Lost Valley is a guest ranch; A dude ranch. Genuine cowboys and cowgirls. Horses… more than 100 of them. Ponds and creeks full of gorgeous trout. With multiple acreage, the number of activities to experience is practically limitless. They offer a gamut of activities for all ages, and everyone can be assured to have a fantastic time. The food and cabins are superb, and the staff is one of the best we have ever seen. They aren’t your typical “employees,” but are rather a large global family. One that you immediately feel a part of when you cross over the cattle guard and enter the ranch. It’s apparent that they are passionately focused and determined to be ushers of lifetime memories, and our gratitude for that is immense.

We're officially in the Family Album! (May 2013)

We’re officially in the Family Album! (May 2013)

This weekend we made wonderful friendships, roasted s’mores over campfires, square danced until we dripped with sweat, rode horses for hours, caught seven beautiful rainbow trout while fly-fishing, ate incredible food, saw breathtaking mountain views, caught a rare glimpse of five Bighorn sheep, and laughed until our sides hurt. I was brought to tears a couple of times because my heart was overwhelmed with such joy. This weekend will truly last a lifetime. We have come home feeling refreshed, renewed, and centered. Our getaway proved more than we ever dreamed of, and we so look forward to venturing through the mountains and driving down the nine-mile long “driveway” to the ranch once again.

Lost Valley Ranch is truly anointed. What they offer is priceless, and it’s obvious that God has His hand on their property. So obvious in fact, that during the devastating Hayman Fire of 2002, the ranch was completely protected from the flames. Surrounding all sides are vast miles of dead trees, yet LVR was unharmed. If you need to break through your bubble, I recommend journeying to Lost Valley. If you need to press pause on your daily life, check it out. If you want to harvest memories that won’t soon be forgotten, Lost Valley is the place for you. Trust me.

Hangin' out at the corral. (May 2013)

Hangin’ out at the corral. (May 2013)

With this getaway to Lost Valley Ranch, I learned quite a few things…

  • I’m a cowgirl at heart… peel back those city-girl layers, and soon you’ll find a boot-wearin’, horseback ridin’, fly fishin’ cowgirl.
  • Wigs are aroma sponges. Get around anything with a strong scent, and rest assured, you’ll be sportin’ that aroma for a while. I’m still debating whether I want to wash the campfire smell from my locks. It reminds me of the square dancing, s’mores, and riding we delighted in.
  • Cancer can’t steal memories. So make as many as you can.
  • Denim on denim is appropriate cowgirl attire.
  • Southern accents rub off. Pretty soon I was slingin’ cowboy lingo in no time flat.
  • God continually surrounds us. When you can’t see or feel Him, have faith that He is there. He will always show up and show off.

And last, but not least…

  • Bubbles are not impenetrable. Break through one and you’ll discover life in an entirely different way.
Horseback riding through the Hayman burn area with our guide, Paul... the London cowboy. (May 2013)

Horseback riding through the Hayman burn area with our guide, Paul… the London cowboy. (May 2013)


Isaiah 55:12-13 (MSG Version)

“So you’ll go out in joy, you’ll be led into a whole and complete life. The mountains and hills will lead the parade, bursting with song. All the trees of the forest will join the procession, exuberant with applause. No more thistles, but giant sequoias, no more thornbushes, but stately pines. Monuments to me, to God, living and lasting evidence of God.”